iOS app Android app

The Torah

The Bible Is For The Birds

Michael Gilmour | Posted 06.27.2016 | Religion
Michael Gilmour

Avian language is everywhere in the Bible. But what, if anything, does it say about ethics? Quite a lot, I suspect. For whatever reason, God does not want humans killing mother birds.

The Forgetful Sands of the Wilderness (Parshat B'midbar, Numbers 1:1-4:20)

Ariel Mayse | Posted 06.07.2016 | Religion
Ariel Mayse

God's self-revelation and the giving of the Torah at Sinai was followed by the sin of the Golden Calf, and then the command to build the Tabernacle and thus establish a dwelling place for God amidst the physical world.

Back to the Garden (Parshat Behukotai, Leviticus 26:3-27:34)

Alicia Jo Rabins | Posted 06.01.2016 | Religion
Alicia Jo Rabins

It makes sense that the utopian promise is not heaven, but earth. Our ancestors, pre-factory-farm, understood the miraculous elegance of a functional ecosystem.

The Bells That Still Can Ring: On Rest and Action (Parshat Behar, Leviticus 25:1-26:2)

Rabbi Susan P. Fendrick | Posted 05.24.2016 | Religion
Rabbi Susan P. Fendrick

It is a year of complete freedom for the land and humanity alike, a do-over year, a time to begin all over again. In this context of new beginnings, the choice of Yom Kippur as the day on which to proclaim the Jubilee year does make some spiritual sense.

The Human Soul is a Candle of God: Finding Meaning in Existence (Parashat Emor, Leviticus 21:1-24:23)

Rabbi Daniel Klein | Posted 05.19.2016 | Religion
Rabbi Daniel Klein

My wife's grandmother is 94 years old. She lives alone in the same house she has lived in for decades. She is remarkably healthy, but is at an age when many people would have already moved into a retirement community or an assisted living facility. But she has no interest in moving.

Beyond Ghosts and Familiar Spirits: Finding Holiness in the Old and the New (Parshat Kedoshim, Leviticus 19:1-20:27)

Rabbi Lisa L. Goldstein | Posted 05.10.2016 | Religion
Rabbi Lisa L. Goldstein

We are on a multi-layered journey. On the Jewish holiday calendar, after leaving Egypt two weeks ago with all the attendant fear and drama of Passover we are moving steadily toward the holiday of Shavuot--on which we celebrate the revelation of the Torah--and thus toward Mt. Sinai.

The Mothers of the Priests (Parshat Acharei Mot, Leviticus 16:1-18:30)

Rabbi Lev Meirowitz Nelson | Posted 05.04.2016 | Religion
Rabbi Lev Meirowitz Nelson

Parshat Acharei Mot closes with a long list of the sexual partners forbidden to men, continuing the apparent male-centric nature of the text. On its most obvious level, the women in this parashah are there mainly as passive objects, or are simply absent.

Violence and Vision (Passover: 7th day, Exodus 13:17-15:26; 8th day, Deuteronomy 15:10-16:17)

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg | Posted 04.28.2016 | Religion
Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg

The ancient rabbis chose Isaiah's vision of peace on earth as the prophetic reading to accompany the Torah reading for the 8th day of Passover, the Festival of Freedom.

Liberation: A Sacred Moment (Passover; Readings for First Days -- Exodus 12:21-51 and Leviticus 22:26-23:44)

Rabbi Arthur Green | Posted 04.18.2016 | Religion
Rabbi Arthur Green

On the second day of Passover, Jews begin a period called sefirat ha-omer, when we publicly count off each day for the next 50, concluding with the holiday of Shavuot. (Hence the Greek term Pentecost, for the 50th day.)

John Kasich: Bigot or Bully?

Lev Raphael | Posted 04.19.2016 | Religion
Lev Raphael

Watching John Kasich lecture Jews about their own holy books isn't just embarrassing, it's infuriating. Kasich dismisses what they say because he knows Judaism better than they do.

The Mitzvah of Getting Dirty (Parshat Metzora, Leviticus 14:1-15:33)

Rabbi Dr. Micha’el Rosenberg | Posted 04.13.2016 | Religion
Rabbi Dr. Micha’el Rosenberg

I am an unabashed lover of Leviticus. And not just the "Be holy," "Love your neighbor as yourself" second half of Leviticus, but especially the "slaughter the cow...sprinkle its blood" first half. "Be holy" sounds great, but what does it actually mean?

Paid Maternity Leave: Are We 'Ready'? (Parshat Tazria, Leviticus 12:1-15:33)

Dr. Sharon Weiss-Greenberg | Posted 04.07.2016 | Religion
Dr. Sharon Weiss-Greenberg

The Torah's narrative is filled with questions, struggles, and lived reality related to maternity. Most of our biblical foremothers struggled with infertility. Great detail and attention is given to empowering women as mothers while recognizing the pain of those who are unable to give birth.

Strange Fire of the Heart (Parashat Shemini, Leviticus 9:1-11:47)

Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman | Posted 03.30.2016 | Religion
Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman

We must draw boundaries around our lives, taking care of our own bodies and needs even as we attend to others. We must dwell in the eye-popping paradox that we are both totally one with God and individual human beings who are blazing with love.

Leadership, Precision, and the Power of Ritual (Parashat Tzav: Leviticus 6:1-8:36)

Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi | Posted 03.23.2016 | Religion
Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi

For decades, many of our prayer books have omitted, rephrased, or reinterpreted the many liturgical references to these ancient sacrifices. And liberal theologies have struggled to find meaning in the priesthood and in the culture of the ancient Temple cult.

Offerings, Then and Now (Parashat Vayikra, Leviticus 1:1-5:26)

Rabbi Dr. Michael Shire | Posted 03.16.2016 | Religion
Rabbi Dr. Michael Shire

On one hand, we can be grateful that we have responded to God's call (vayikra means "and God called") very differently in a post-biblical world; on the other hand, we can still recall with wonder and mystery the ancient cult as described in our parasha.

With Water, String, and Laughter: Finding the Divine (Parshat Pekudei, Exodus 38:21 - 40:38)

Rabbi Emma Kippley-Ogman | Posted 03.09.2016 | Religion
Rabbi Emma Kippley-Ogman

This month, the Torah has led us on a comprehensive tour of the folk art museum of ancient Israelite desert wandering, a full accounting of the physical culture of our portable sacred space in the wilderness.

A Corrective to Islamophobes and Muslim Bigots

Kabir Helminski | Posted 03.07.2016 | Religion
Kabir Helminski

The common misperceptions about the Qur'an's message (among Islamophobes and Muslim bigots) are just as extreme as the misperceptions of some Christians about the message of Jesus.

A Campaign That Includes Us All (Parshat Vayakhel, Exodus 35:1-38:20)

Deborah Skolnick Einhorn | Posted 03.02.2016 | Religion
Deborah Skolnick Einhorn

The preceding one-dimensional campaigns -- in which both color and gender are circumscribed -- serve to emphasize the expansive ways in which individuals can be moved to give for the sake of community.

By the People and for the People (Parshat Ki Tissa: Exodus 30:11-34:35)

Stephen Hazan Arnoff | Posted 02.24.2016 | Religion
Stephen Hazan Arnoff

This week's Torah portion, Ki Tissa, suggests two poles of leadership, a useful model for election season or any time. The reading begins with a call to order for the entire Israelite enterprise.

Nurturing Art: The Sacred Work of Creativity (Parshat Tetzaveh Exodus 27:20-30:10)

Rabbi Adina Allen | Posted 02.18.2016 | Religion
Rabbi Adina Allen

This week's Torah portion, Tetzaveh, is all about connection to the Divine. We pick up in the midst of God's instructions to Moses about how to construct the sacred space in which the Divine Presence can dwell.

Making Space for the Divine -- and Each Other (Parshat Terumah, Exodus 25:1 - 27:19)

Rabbi Jordan Braunig | Posted 02.10.2016 | Religion
Rabbi Jordan Braunig

May we be blessed to be bold and courageous enough to build sacred dwelling places, and may the reward for struggling to keep housing available be an ongoing sense of proximity to the Holy One.

Teaching With Patience and Presence (Parshat Mishpatim, Exodus 21:1-24:18)

Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld | Posted 02.04.2016 | Religion
Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Teaching, mentoring, and providing guidance and support to young people who are trying to find their way in a complex world requires sustained presence, patience, persistence, and compassion. The same is true for learners at any stage of life.

Many Covenantal Paths: Catholic and Jewish Partnership (Parshat Yitro, Exodus 18:1-20:23)

Rabbi Daniel Lehmann | Posted 01.27.2016 | Religion
Rabbi Daniel Lehmann

In this week's Torah portion, Parshat Yitro -- named for Moses' father-in-law -- Jethro (Yitro in Hebrew) is described first as a priest of Midian, and only after that as the father of Moses' wife.

Honoring the Blank Spaces (Parshat B'shalach, Exodus 13:17-17:16)

Rabbi Minna Bromberg | Posted 01.20.2016 | Religion
Rabbi Minna Bromberg

This is the teaching I take from the distinctive layout of the Song of the Sea: the space of the in-breath is the birthplace of all song. Honoring this space, no matter how limited it or we may be, allows us to reconnect, throughout our songs and throughout our lives, with the Infinite from which all song flows.

Watching, Waiting, Reflecting: Dreaming in Times of Darkness (Parshat Bo, Exodus 10:1-13:16)

Adam Lavitt | Posted 01.13.2017 | Religion
Adam Lavitt

Rather than sitting idly by, paralyzed by cynicism -- or charging toward the power brokers with vengeance -- we can get up and join hands with our ancestors. Together, we will gaze into the darkness, waiting patiently until our eyes adjust and we can see something amidst the darkness.